His game has been in the doldrums for some time, but a good finish in the Maybank Malaysia Open in early February has seen him on the comeback trail. And a bogey-free start in this event saw him share the lead with Frenchman Gregory Havret and Swede Alexander Bjork.
‘I was in a dark place with my golf,’ said Porteous. ‘To come back in my home country and in my home province and start to find my golf swing, and really start to get some good scores under the belt. is something I have really needed for a long time. And it feels good.’
He started his round on the 10th, and he was quickly into his work with a birdie on the 11th. He followed that with three in four holes from the 15th ahead of the turn, and then made two more on the front nine as he kept chipping away at par.
‘I think I missed a total of two or three fairways all day,’ he said. ‘I gave myself 15 to 16 good chances of making a birdie. In terms of putting, I wouldn’t say I holed the world, but I made the putts that I needed to make and unfortunately the last couple of holes I finished with two pars, but all in all I couldn’t be happier with where my golf is starting to go and hopefully I can only improve on it.’
Havret made two bogeys in his score of six under. ‘With eight birdies overall, my game was quite hot today,’ he said. ‘Wedging was good and putting was good. I was pretty hot on the front nine. The back nine was a bit tougher and I didn’t play that great, but I had a couple of good wedges on 14 and 17. They saved me a bit for that back nine. Six under is a good score, definitely.’
Bjork, like Porteous, was bogey-free. ‘I played good today,’ he said. ‘I was solid off the tee, hitting straight and also hitting some good irons and some putts. I did manage to hole a few good putts. I was playing really good the first nine holes. I was having a lot of short putts, and then on four and five I was struggling a little bit and holed two, three metre putts for par, and that was very good.’
One stroke behind the leaders was a group of five players on five under par, comprising Scot Duncan Stewart, Finn Mikko Korhonen, South Africa’s Justin Walters, Ben Eccles of Australia and Toby Tree of England.
These were all good scores on a course which was particularly challenging, because the rough was so punitive. ‘The rough is as deep as I have seen on a Gauteng golf course,” said Porteous. “I must say it is a bit daunting standing over the tee shot and knowing that you have to hit the fairways to give yourself a decent chance and luckily today I did that.’
For all that, the course was in immaculate condition. ‘The course is in great condition,’ said Porteous. ‘These fairways are probably the best fairways I have seen in Gauteng ever since I can remember.’
65 – Gregory Havret, Haydn Porteous, Alexander Bjork
66 – Duncan Stewart, Mikko Korhonen, Justin Walters, Ben Eccles, Toby Tree
67 – Matthew Southgate, Jorge Campillo, James Morrison, Scott Henry, Peter Karmis, Scott Jamieson, Garth Mulroy
68 – Richie Ramsay, George Coetzee, Dean Burmester, Marc Warren, Chris Hanson, Daniel Brooks, Romain Langasque, Pep Angles, Justin Hicks, Oliver Bekker, Marcus Armitage, Louis de Jager, Soomin Lee, Hennie Otto, Graeme Storm, Simon Dyson, Keenan Davidse
69 – Jaco Prinsloo, Adilson Da Silva, Robert Rock, Jacques Blaauw, Ross McGowan, Jeff Inglis, Edoardo Molinari, Ryan Fox, Peter Uihlein, Jordan Smith, Darren Fichardt, Zander Lombard, Jacques Kruyswijk, Ricardo Gouveia, Damien Perrier
70 – Toto Thimba, Lyle Rowe, Steve Webster, David Horsey, Stuart Manley, Anthony Wall, Chris Swanepoel, Francesco Laporta, Hennie du Plessis, Adrian Otaegui, Ockie Strydom, Christofer Blomstrand, Ruan de Smidt, Vaughn Groenewald, Nacho Elvira, Jamie Donaldson, Paul Peterson, Chris Paisley
71 – Robert Dinwiddie, Sebastien Gros, Matthieu Pavon, Oliver Fisher, Dylan Frittelli, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Sam Walker, Paul Waring, Lee Slattery, Jaco Ahlers, Jose-Filipe Lima, Michael Hollick, Colin Nel, Trevor Mahoney, Lucas Bjerregaard, Keith Horne, Trevor Immelman, David Howell, Ulrich van den Berg, Pelle Edberg, Andrew Curlewis, Thomas Detry, Titch Moore, Ricardo Gonzalez, Wallie Coetsee, Jonathan Agren, Jeff Winther
72 – Alexander Knappe, Bernd Ritthammer, Jean Hugo, Dawie Van der Walt, Morten Orum Madsen, Rhys West, David Drysdale, JC Ritchie, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Thomas Aiken, Nino Bertasio, Daniel Greene, Jbe’ Kruger
Courtesy Sunshine Tour